Interview | FFS 5 with D.L. Rossi

Photo by Rachel Hurley

Thematically, D.L. Rossi’s Lonesome Kind is what it says it is on the tin. It’s certainly lonesome, but Rossi’s emotion is softly, sometimes ironically veiled beneath the tasty veneer of grooving, soulful music. A mix of Motown and Americana (it works better than it might seem), the album is persistently musically upbeat. All the while, Rossi waxes poetic on the trying circumstances of recent life—from battling testicle cancer, to an arduous divorce, and suffering through a nervous breakdown. Rossi wins over whoever lends an ear with his earnest, good-humored delivery, finding a means to smile when the world is awry. His art reflects his heart.

Rossi is amongst the latest to join the hallowed halls of our ‘FFS 5’ interview series.

Please tell us about your new album, Lonesome Kind.

Lonesome Kind is a project that I didn’t know was gonna happen after the pandemic hit.  My brother Nolan Rossi and I had planned to go out to LA and work with our friend Tyler Chester on the album. But once everything shut down we didn’t know what we were gonna do.  

Then after a while, we had a window where we thought we could track the album remotely and I just decided to go for it.  Nolan and Tyler had an idea for how to use Zoom and a live sharing function on Protools to be able to track while Tyler was in LA at his home studio and Nolan, myself, and Ross McReynolds (who played drums on the record) were at my brother’s home studio in Nashville.  

In terms of the songs on the album and the writing process, I spent all my time leading up to the album working on the lyrics and general tone of the songs.  I really wanted Nolan and Tyler to push the songs musically where they felt was best and then just step in whenever I felt something.  For past albums, I would come to the studio with full demos with bass, drums, guitars, and keys.  As well as a general idea of what I wanted each song to sound like.  But with this album, I didn’t let myself have pre-conceived notions about arrangements and structure. I wanted it to be whatever it wanted to be. 

What we ended up with was so fun for me because I got to see the songs come to life as the four of us worked on the basic core of the songs.  We would track one song a day, Ross in one section of the studio in Nashville, and my brother and I in the other, and Tyler in his studio in LA.  Bouncing ideas back and forth, via iPad and MacBook screens, and somehow each day we ended up with a song.  It was really wonderful to record together, we had not been able to work on music with other people in a while so the spirit in the studio was always very open and comforting for me.  

Lyrically this album reflects the attitude I had towards the production.  I wasn’t writing about any specific life experiences like I had in past albums.  Instead, I took life experiences from myself and other people in my life and constructed little vignettes or short stories.  Half fiction, half-truth. I tried to write about my own shortcomings, but also the growth I’ve experienced.  I allowed myself to change my mind about subjects from song to song, to be open about how up and down I am emotionally.  I just tried to tell good stories and push myself. 

All in all, it was a gift for me to be able to do this album with the people I was able to do it with. They are all so talented and gifted as songwriters and musicians. Listening to the album now I find myself mostly enjoying the album for the contributions of the people who sang, played, and mixed the project more than my own efforts.  It is extremely satisfying to hear my lyrics supported by such beautiful music. 

Tell us about the people that you made the record with.

I made Lonesome Kind with my brother, Nolan Rossi, who co-produced and played on the album (keys, guitars, synths) along with Tyler Chester (bass, guitars, keys, synth) who co-produced and also played on the album. Ross McReynolds lent his wonderful skills on drums and percussion.  Laura Jean Anderson and Felicity Jones sang backing vocals are different songs throughout the album. Juan Solorzano came in and rounded out the guitars on the album with some wonderful textures and lead guitar parts.  And finally, the horns on “Oak Tree” were done by Tyler Summers with the trumpet and flugelhorn by Vinnie Ciesielski, and tenor saxophone by Tyler Summers and tenor and bass trombone by Roy Agee.  

Finally, my brother mixed the album! And it was mastered at The Bakery. 

Working with Nolan, Tyler, and Ross every day in the studio on the foundations of the album made the album what it was.  But the contributions of each artist who played on the album rounded it into form so well.  I’m thankful to everyone involved. 

What’s been the biggest takeaway for you this year being a musician during a pandemic?

I think the hardest thing is it sucks to not have shows anymore.  I miss seeing people play live and the energy we get as a community from those shows.  It’s really hard to feel the same momentum when you can’t be with people in a room and feel their energy.  

What are your plans for 2021?

The plan right now is to just put as much effort as I can into the release of Lonesome Kind.  I have a few fun surprises up my sleeve in terms of content for the album and I’m excited to see how people respond!  

I have hope that we will be back to playing shows by the fall.  I would certainly love to share these songs live with people, in real life. 

And finally, I’ve already been writing and working on more singles to release by either the end of this year or early next year.  

Words by: Jonathan Frahm